Sunday, August 30, 2009

Canning like Crazy! Part One

The past couple weekends I have been making pickles and jelly. I have never made pickles and only made jelly once before. The previous jelly experience was not a pleasant one. So over the next few days, I will chronicle my bounty.
I don't have my own garden so I bought most of my produce and dill from the Hutterites and Mennonites. The farmers market is always a busy spot on Thursdays. I had to outfit myself with a few new tools. I needed a jar lifter, so I just bought a kit that included a magnet for lids, a headspace/air bubble tool, jar lifter, and wide mouth funnel.
These are the dill pickles I made. I borrowed a few canning and preserving books from the library and found Speedy Dill Pickles in the Canning & Preserving for Dummies book.

Speedy Dill Pickles adapted from Canning and Preserving for Dummies

  • 4 pounds pickling cucumbers
  • 6 tbs kosher or pickling salt
  • 3 cups picking vinegar
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tbs pickling spices
  • 18 black peppercorns
  • 3 tbs dill seed
  • fresh dill sprigs (optional)

Wash cucumbers. Slice in halves or quarters.

Prepare canning jars and lids. I put my clean jars in the sink and fill with boiling water until ready to use. I put the lids (not the rings) in a small saucepan till ready to use. When I am almost ready for the lids, I pour boiling water over them.

Combine salt, water, and vinegar in a saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the salt. Keep liquid hot.

Snuggly pack the cucumbers in the prepared jars. I use my silicone oven mitt I bought forever ago and never used for this. I dumped the boiling water out of my jars and stuffed them, holding the jar with my silicone oven mitted hand. Glad I kept that, cause Lee wanted to get rid of it.

If using quart (1L) jars, to each jar, add 1 tsp pickling spice, 6 peppercorns, 1 tbs of dill seed. Optional: 2 peeled, halved cloves of garlic

If using pint (500mL) jars, to each jar, add 1/2 tsp pickling spice, 3 peppercorns, 1 1/2 tsp dill seed. Optional: 1 peeled, halved clove of garlic

If you are adding fresh dill, add a sprig or two to each jar between the inside edge of the jar and the cucumbers.

Ladle the hot liquid into your filled jars, leaving a headspace of 1/2 inch in quart jars and 1/4 inch in pint jars. Completely submerge cucumbers in the liquid. If they protrude, adjust till you have proper headspace. Release any air bubbles. That wide mouth funnel was a godsend. The headspace tool was great too because my 1/4 inch and a real 1/4 inch are two different things.

Wipe the jar rims clean. Seal with the lid and add the band till finger tight. Finger tight isn't very tight. Just when you start to meet resistance, stop. Magnet tool, which is basically a magnet on a stick is another great tool. Makes sealing go so much faster.

Process your sealed jars in a water bath. Jars should be covered in 2-3 inches of water. 15 minutes for quart jars, 10 minutes for pint jars. Start the timer when the pot comes to a rolling boil after adding the jars. Adjust your process time based on altitude. I have to add an additional 5 minutes to my time. You can find this by googling it.

When the process time is up, remove the jars and place them on a clean towel or cooling rack. Thank you jar lifter! Lids will seal (pop) as they cool. If any don't seal, refrigerate and use within 2 months.

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